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Alison Lock - Poet, Writer

Dancing with Words

Last weekend, we held our Dancing with Words workshop at Hedd Wen Peace Garden, Abergavenny. My annual trip to this lovely place has been interrupted for two years by my need to recover from an accident, so it was even more special to return this year. More than ever, I appreciated the gentle gathering made possible by the support of Gill, our wonderful host. The location is perfect with a backdrop of the mountain of Blorenge watching over us, keeping the clouds at bay.

Our course, Dancing with Words, came about one day when I met up with Ann. I talked about my writing, and she told me about her gentle movement classes. I explained that there are times when I need to be outside and that by sitting at a desk all day, I feel stuck both in my mind and in my body. When I'm not involved in a writing project, I enjoy walking along the footpaths, across the moors or around the reservoirs of our beautiful South Pennines locality. I realised that it is in this way that I feel the words unravel, as if there is a long ribbon coiled up inside me, waiting to be released and that it is only by motion that the words are set free and can be brought home and written down. It was then that we decided to put our two art forms together - to intertwine our creations, to seek ways of writing through our bodily movements, and to use our words to inspire our dance.

Since that meeting, we have worked on providing a programme that is for both writers and dancers or anyone who has some experience of either, or none. We begin by focusing on the small things, turning in to the intricate, listening to our bodies, expressing our movements in words, or turning our words into movement, painting an imaginary canvas. With Ann's encouragement, we are free to explore with warming and stretching exercises, and then to draw out words to write our poems and stories. On returning to the dance, our words are brought back into the flow of movement.

Often, we need to give ourselves permission to relax and notice how we are, how we feel, who we are, how we move. For this, we need to take time to reflect, look into the shadows and the light, allow our feet to kiss the earth. One of the exercises on this course is to take our words on a walking meditation; we stretch out with our minds and our bodies to feel the flow of the air around us.

At Hedd Wen, we sought our inner creative source in a silent walk around the garden; some ventured further along the towpath of the still waters of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal, and others found inspiration from the churchyard of Llanfoist with its ancient stone cross, its graveyard, and the yew tree, believed to be over one thousand years old.

We rested, we shared food. We wrote, and we danced all day!

May we return.